Home Server for media etc

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Scunion, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Scunion macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2009
    Please forgive the noobness of this post. I would like to set up a central location in our house where my wife and I can store all of our iTunes media for use with two MBP's and an :apple:TV as well as our iPhones and iPods. Would it make sense to pick up an older G5 or G4 Xserve for this purpose and run 10.5.x Server (I like Time Machine)? My thinking is that we would be able to map a network drive to our MBPs with all our iTunes media on it for syncing the iPods and iPhones. I understand that people have had issues syncing devices when the media has just been in a shared folder.

    My other reason for thinking about an inexpensive xserve is for backup of media. Instead of buying a Drobo or other NAS I could just use the internal bays at first for redundant backup. I was also thinking that we could set up a VPN for each computer to retrieve any info stored on the server (i.e. school work or the latest CSI episode etc).

    Does this make any sense or is there a better way of going about this? Also, do you have to have an Xserve to run OSX Server or can you throw it on a Mac Mini? Would that make more sense?

    Thanks for all your help!
  2. geoffreak macrumors 68020


    Feb 8, 2008
    You can run OSX Server on a Mac Mini, but it is pointless in this case. I recommend you either pickup a NAS or just attach external drives to a Mac Mini and share them over the network.

    You can tell Time Machine to backup to any network accessible drive too. I use Time Machine on my MBP to a drive attached to my Mac Mini.
  3. foshizzle macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2007
    setup a computer (mac mini?) running itunes. add all of your media, enable sharing, set a password if you like. Create a shared folder, share over AFP, map this on your two laptops and point time machine to it.

    Any computer can now see the itunes media in their itunes library under 'shared'. you cannot take media from here and sync with an ipod or iphone, but you can play all media and stream to your appletv.

    The problem with making a shared folder then pointing itunes on both computers to it is that you run into permissions. if one person opens it, then closes, they now own it. the next person will be unable to open itunes unless you release the owner to them.

    you'd just have to figure out what you wanted on your laptop to sync and what you could have on the itunes server.

    keep it cheap. there is no reason to get an xserve, and probably no reason to get 10.5/6 server. even if you do get 10.5 server, put it on a mac mini. any xserve, or even a mac pro would be way overkill. if you want a VPN make sure your ISP will allow it, then figure out a way to do it. 10.5 (or 10.6) server would set it up without a problem, but there are probably things you can install on standard mac os x to enable a VPN.
  4. UnclePaulie macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2004
    LA, CA
    Sorry to butt in, but I was looking to have a similar set up. Recently sold my MediaSmart server because I wanted something that had a display output to hook up to my TV in case I wanted to surf the web or Hulu. If I was interested in a similar set up as the OP (share media, Time Machine backups) how fast of a Mac Mini would I need. As in, could I buy a used G4 Mini (they're going for $300 on eBay) or is that too slow?

    Ignoring the web surfing part, would a NAS be faster or more reliable? (I do have an Airport extreme so I could always hook up a hard drive to that too.)
  5. Scunion thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2009
    Thanks for the replies. The reason I thought about getting an xserve is that they are relatively cheap on ebay (about $500 for a G5). I'm now thinking about just having a Mac Mini as a HTMS. As far as sharing the iTunes library, it was mentioned that if one person opens it then they own it, does this apply if all computers are authorized on the same iTunes account? My apologies for digressing from the theme of this forum.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Gross overkill for your use. You don't need the sever version of Mac OS to share file over a network. ANy version of Mac OS can do that. Also serving files does not require much of the CPU. and old G4 would be OK for that.

    You really don't even need a computer that make speacial purpose file servers. Those NAS boxes actually work better because they are set u for remove admin via a web browser and don't need their own keyboard and montor

    If you want to use an Apple product the Apple Airort Extreme has a USB port that is made for this purpose. Drobo with "drobo share" is not a bad way to go.

    If you want "cheap" Get a PC chassis and run BSD on it.
  7. foshizzle macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2007
    I'd still stay clear of an xserve even if they are $500 on ebay. The thing is huge - do you have a rack in your house to put it in? It also will be quite loud.

    I'd recommend at least an intel mac mini. Does not have to be the latest ones, however you can get them for around $500 on ebay or apple's refurb page. one reason being if you ever decided to do any tv recording with something like elgato's eyetv products (amazing), you'd have to be running an intel machine to do any HD recording.

    With itunes sharing - let me clear up confusion:

    -iTunes running on a server, 'sharing' enabled within itunes. Each computer opens their own itunes, and in the left side browser they see a 'shared' section with the server's itunes library in it. I think as many as 5 people can be connected to this at a time. Permissions are not affected. Try enabling sharing in your itunes preferences and checking it out from another computer on the same network.

    -a server with a shared folder, containing a single itunes library. Each computer connects to the shared folder, and points iTunes to use the single itunes library in that folder. This will be where you run into permissions problems. After computer A opens the itunes library, computer A will be the owner of the library. Computer A closes iTunes, computer B tries to open the library (again, same library on the shared folder on the server). Computer B will get an error saying that the itunes library is locked, which is because computer A still owns it. To fix it every time, you'll have to manually go in and set permissions after you close the iTunes library so the next person can open it. This would be a hassle.

    You cannot stream itunes from an airport extreme or time capsule. THey are storage only. You can backup time machine to it, no problem, but i would not even store an itunes library on it unless it was over gig ethernet. you'd have too much lag. Plus, you'll run into the shared folder issue I mentioned above.

    Any mac, running standard mac os X.5 (0r 6 in sept.) can be a bare-bones server. If all you want to do is share a folder for time machine and have iTunes stream music out, don't bother getting 10.5 server or an xserve. Use a mac mini with 10.5 on it. Heck, 10.4 would work too.

    Options not using mac at all - build a cheap linux box, run FireFly media server for iTunes streaming, and use SMB or install AFP to use for time machine then run the command on your mac to use unsupported time machine volumes.

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